The mathematics of successful credit union marketing

How many people are currently in the market for the products and services you offer? 

10%? No.

5%? No.

1%? No.

Usually, it’s a tiny fraction of 1%.

When you’re trying to reach that tiny fraction of 1% of consumers who are actively searching for a product or service you offer, your features and benefits are important to them. 

What will make the other 99.9% of consumers who aren’t ready for your auto loan or to make the switch to your checking product take notice right now?

Quit being in a hurry. Stop waiting until the last minute to put your message out there. No more quick bursts of cocaine advertising (that quick promo that gives you a momentary high).  

Instead, make a stand to impress future members with warm stories that catch their attention, create a smile and earn a place in their heart and mind, so they think of you first and like you the best when the need arises. It takes courage and patience, but it’s how you win the race.

How do you do this? Consider the Simon Sinek talk about finding your why, that one you’ve heard at every conference but never gets any traction within your credit union. Why is that? Why is something so inspiring so useless for so many? Most of the time you end up describing the outcome you are hoping to create, or you just approach your Unique Selling Proposition from a new and different angle, instead of digging deep into your soul for that WHY. Go back into the history books and recreate your origin story.

If your origin story could be told by any of your competitors, you have not created an origin story. You are simply telling us about your passion or what you hope to accomplish.

Consider this, in terms of the bio of an artist: “My mother tells me I was painting before I could talk.”

Those are simply the background telling the longevity of a passion, not the WHY, or the origin story.

“The first time I saw the Mona Lisa I was instantly enthralled, and it made me want to paint…”

“I saw the ability to communicate a story or a thought in a way no one else could…”

There is no template for this, no pattern to follow. There is only a unique story of a moment in time that captures the WHY of your credit union. 

In a recent article, Chip Filson so eloquently captured the success of two of the largest credit unions in the country that have stayed true to their WHY and how it has sustained their success:

“Credit unions [have] shied away from their unique design, urging consumers to see them as better than banking. Instead of replacing the competition, credit unions mimicked the institutions with which they compete. Trying to beat the competition by becoming its shadow.”

Both Navy Federal and State Employees Credit Union in North Carolina are the examples Filson used. “The challenge is not size, expansion or even growth. Navy Federal has been able, even at $150 billion, to focus on members as the mission. With an added inference that not everyone can join, which is why you should.”

When you’re creating your marketing strategy and messaging for 2022, remember 99.9% of your audience isn’t ready to buy into your features and benefits… yet. Share a story. Share your credit union’s story so your credit union will be top of mind when their current bank pisses them off again, or they’re finally ready to buy a car or home or have an urgent last-minute need their savings won’t quite cover.

Chip said it best in the closing of his article:

“Credit unions will rarely out-market competitors. The two largest credit unions in the country retain the connection with members as the center of their strategy and messaging efforts. Their belief is that great organizations create great brands; great branding does not build great firms.”

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co. A marketing firm that started serving credit unions nearly a decade ago, offering a wide range of services including web design, branding, ... Web: Details